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The Army’s Functional Concept for Sustainment
These are exciting times for all the members of the sustainment community. Over 24 months ago, the Army rewrote its Capstone Concept, which in turn created the need to rewrite the Army’s Functional Concept for Sustainment. This rewrite, and all that it entails, is a major priority for the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM).

The past 8 years have provided valuable insights and observations concerning how we, as sustainers, conduct sustainment operations in support of the joint fight in the new operating environment. The Army Capstone Concept (Army Training and Doctrine Command [TRADOC] Pamphlet 525−3−0) and the Army Operating Concept (TRADOC Pamphlet 525−3−1) have changed the previous direction in which the Army was heading by acknowledging that the basic nature of war has not changed.

Despite our advances in technology, uncertainty remains a constant in the operational environment, and our dominance as warfighters will continue to force our adversaries to blend in with the local population, causing us to operate in complex and urban terrain.

As an expeditionary Army, we must be able to deploy to the fight, operate over extended distances, and deal with anti-access and area denial challenges, all while conducting distributed operations. We will also have to sustain all phases of full-spectrum operations, often simultaneously. Sustaining the future force in an era of persistent conflict, under conditions of uncertainty and complexity, requires an adaptive and versatile sustainment framework that is capable of maintaining the force’s freedom of action.

The new TRADOC Pamphlet 525−4−1, The United States Army Functional Concept for Sustainment 2016−2028, approved in October 2010, expands on the ideas presented in the Army Capstone Concept and the Army Operating Concept and describes the functional capabilities required to sustain the future force while conducting full-spectrum operations. Sustaining future Army forces in austere environments, often at the end of extended lines of communication, requires a logistics network capable of projecting and providing the support and services necessary to ensure freedom of action, extend operational reach, and prolong endurance.

However, if the logistics network is to be successful, future Army forces must decrease the demand-side characteristics of the force. Those decreases will serve to reduce the strain and frequency of resupply operations. In support of this approach, TRADOC Pamphlet 525−4−1 serves as a foundation for future force development pertaining to sustainment and the sustainment warfighting function.

Concept development leads change for the Army and drives the development and integration of future capabilities. It also provides a framework for analysis, readiness assessments, prioritization, and feedback. The CASCOM team is conducting a number of efforts to hone future required capabilities in the Army Functional Concept for Sustainment by including a sustainment functional capabilities-based assessment (CBA) and conducting a number of organizational-based assessments (ObAs).

Our CBA looks across the 21 functional areas within the sustainment warfighting function and identifies gaps and solutions that enable us to accomplish our sustainment mission in the most appropriate and resource-informed manner. With your support from the field, we are evaluating our theater sustainment command, expeditionary sustainment command, sustainment brigade, and explosive ordnance disposal formations during the ObAs to develop and refine critical required capabilities, gaps, and solutions for the Army and the sustainment community.

However, we are not developing the Sustainment Functional Concept in a stovepipe. We have successfully integrated our concept and CBA effort with the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the other TRADOC centers of excellence. This past winter, I had the opportunity to provide an assessment briefing to the Army Chief of Staff on our Sustainment Warfighting Functional Concept with the five other warfighting functions to ensure an integrated and mutual supporting approach to the future.

I foresee the greatest impact of the new Sustainment Functional Concept to be on our greatest resource, our sustainment leaders and Soldiers. We will emphasize cultural awareness, operational adaptability, and the practice of mission command to our Soldiers at all echelons. Well-trained and informed Soldiers will be our most versatile resource, while training and education will serve to create operational adaptability at the individual and small-unit levels. Sustainment Soldiers will be capable of reacting to unforeseen changes, operating in a degraded network, and making decisions at the lowest level.

By the time you read this article, we will have completed our important work on the current edition of the Army Functional Concept for Sustainment, we will be about to complete the Sustainment Functional CBA, and we will start the revisions of the next editions of the Army Operating Concept and the Army Functional Concept for Sustainment. Throughout our efforts, your involvement has proven instrumental to our success, and I value your continued input and look forward to hearing from you on these vital and important concepts for our sustainment community.

Major General James L. Hodge is the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia.

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